The From Line

Sending, Managing & Monetizing Email

Creating Subject Lines that Capture Attention

Too many marketers forget one of the most important elements of their e-mail marketing campaign—the subject line. With spam filters furiously searching for reasons to dump your email in a junk email folder instead of the inbox, your choice of subject line is increasingly important. Consider these tips.

  • Strive for accuracy and don’t exaggerate the content just to attract readers.
  • Test the subject line with different segments of your group using eLoop’s A/B…Z Split option for campaigns.
  • Personalize your subject line and give readers a reason to open it.
  • Write the subject line like a headline and read newspapers for some ideas. 
  • Associate a deadline to increase a sense of urgency.
  • Use a spam filter to check the copy of the subject line too and avoid phrases that will tip them off.

 

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Tips for Re-Designing Your Email Template

Your e-mail template is another extension of your overall brand. It needs attention to stay fresh and functional.  Follow these tips to improve the visual impact of your email marketing template.

  • Avoid background images – images help break up text and direct readers to online resource if they’re used correctly so test the message first. Background images often don’t appear in all email clients. Be sure to host any images you use on a Web site. 
  • Image alt tags are your friend – use one or two words to describe what the image is for recipients that have email clients that block images. 
  • Use an HTML programmer – “What you see is what you get” programs add extra code that can disrupt your template.
  • Choose a horizontal layout over vertical – horizontal layout allows readers to scroll down and see more in a preview panel.
  • Honor your brand – your organization has a visual brand represented by your Web site and other promotional materials. Keep your template in line with your brand but remember the reader’s needs.
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Working Around the Image Blocker

Images can enhance a message and draw attention to its key components. But, when they are blocked and appear as a big, red X in the recipient’s preview pane (often with the instruction to “right click to download”) they can lose their effectiveness. The reason images are often blocked is to enable users to prohibit unwanted (or inappropriate) images from loading automatically.  Blocking images also protects readers from spammers who use them to verify the email address is real. 

The impact of blocking images comes in multiple forms (such as lower open rates and disabled banner ads which can hurt advertiser supported material), but they all lead to lower deliverability. Like other delivery issues, email marketers can institute practices to help minimize this issue. 

  • Get whitelisted and ask your readers to add your company to their “approved sender” or “safe list” to ensure email is allowed through with a minimum of filtering, image blocking included.
  • Add a link to view the email online.  The “view Web version” links back to a version of the email hosted on your server where images are easy-to-view.
  • Provide a prominent text link to the message at the very top of your message so recipients can always choose a text version.   
  • Before sending check the appearance of your message in the preview pane.  Is there enough information to entice the reader to open the message? Or, is the preview pane filled with images and graphics that won’t download.   
  • HTML is beneficial but don’t neglect the text version of your message. A strong, relevant text version ensures you still reach users, regardless of format preference.   
  • Don’t ignore text links.  If your email includes several key linked images, consider adding text-based links as a caption to the image or in the copy of the message.
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Creative Tips For Email Newsletter

Creativity and innovation can make or break your e-publication.  With an online platform, you must write copy and include dynamic content that will stimulate the reader’s attention and, ideally, convince them to forward the message to colleagues and friends widening your readership.  

Below are tips to remind you to cover the basics and explore the publication’s creative side.   

  • Use an HTML template and a text version to ensure your reader’s receive the message. 

  • Implement a double-opt in policy for all subscribers—it’s just good practice.

  • Don’t include long articles, multi-column layouts, unrelated links or gratuitous images.  Keep writing simple and to the point. 

  • Don’t overuse links.  Keep them relevant and make sure they work.

  • Use bulleted lists to break up text and summarize main points for the reader. 

  • Include only two - three subjects per newsletter. More than a few articles will test your audience’s attention span. 

  • Use Variable Data Printing (VDP) to personalize the message (i.e. using your data points to address the message as “Dear Mike” instead of “Dear Sir”).  A small gesture that can lead to higher response rates. 

  • Dynamic content leads to dynamic messages.  Customize the message by region, reader preferences, age or other demographics.  You collected the data for a reason, now use it.

  • Send a welcome message to new subscribers. Give them a reason to praise your customer service and attention to detail. 

  • Include a survey or poll into the message. It is a quick tool to gather general data and include your reader in the message. 

  • Use the expertise available to you.  Brainstorm with staff members who have interaction with your readers and may understand their needs, use the knowledge of your marketing team and call on your email service provider for advice and guidance. 

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Outlook 2007 Posing Old Challenges for Email Marketers

As technology and software advances, it is supposed to make our lives easier, right? In most cases, yes, but the latest version of Microsoft Outlook is an exception.  It could cause problems for email marketers unaware of the differences between the 2006 and 2007 editions.

The reasons behind the step backwards are not 100 percent clear, but it seems the problem resides in the lackluster rendering ability that will alter the way messages appear in recipients’ inboxes.

The 2007 version doesn’t support new design elements marketers have worked hard to incorporate into their messages including background images, forms, flash or other plugins or animated GIFs.  The consensus among experts is that Outlook will strip out images and restrict animation or “motion.”

The bottom line is not to panic and to start developing a plan now to deal with the change and potential problems. Many companies have not made the switch to Microsoft 2003 from 2000, so don’t expect an overwhelming migration to the 2007 version.  Instead, use the following recommendations to prepare:

  • Simplify the structure and composition of messages.  You can’t go wrong with a simple, elegant design.

  • Update your template.  If you haven’t updated your HTML template in the last 18 – 24 months, review it, identify and resolve potential problems.

  • Encourage in-house HTML and graphic designers to get the details of these changes and suggestions from Microsoft by clicking here.

  • Test your messages with multiple accounts including the top consumer email providers (Gmail, Yahoo, AOL and Hotmail). 

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The Email Monetization Playbook
Email Monetization Playbook
69 Must Scan Pages For Publishers!

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Email Monetization Playbook
69 Must Scan Pages For Publishers!